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Friday, 23 October 1931


Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- I congratulate the Government on having brought forward this measure. I am particularly pleased at its introduction, because I feel that, to some extent, it is the result of representations which I made to the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) on behalf of depositors with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. On several occasions I have referred in this House to the plight of many who had deposited their money with that institution, the latest being the 13th of this month, when I asked the Treasurer whether he had considered the cases that I had submitted to him in response to his request that specific cases of hardship should be brought under his notice. One case which I presented to him was that of an aged couple at West Wallsend, who had £900 in the bank, and had asked that they be granted an old-age pension until such time as their money could be made available to them, when they would pay back the* amount they had received. The Minister did not reply at the time. I am glad that my representations have led to the introduction of this bill. , No doubt it will help, in a small way, a number of people who, although possessing some hundreds of pounds, have been compelled to go cap in hand to the State Government to plead for the dole. They feel their position keenly. They would prefer to withdraw their own money from the bank, as they had a right to expect seeing that the State Government guaranteed all deposits made with that institution. I have felt all along that if the State Government could take a lien on deposits in the savings bank, in order to pay the dole, the Federal Government might grant depositors a pension which, in my opinion, is much to be prefe'rred to the dole. [Quorum formed.'] The effect of the acceptance of these deposits as security for payments made by the pensions department is evidence that the Government is convinced of the stability of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. No reasonable person has ever doubted its stability. Had it not been for the insidious propaganda conducted by political parties opposed to th, Lang party, that bank, would never have closed its doors. That propaganda was started by the ex-Treasurer of New South Wales, Mr. Stevens. It was then taken up by the Leader of the 1 Opposition. (Mr. Bavin). Finally, the bank closed its doors in consequence of a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) in this House.


Mr Latham - That is a strange thing to say. I merely asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) to make a reassuring statement, as any honorable member will find if he reads Hansard. Unfortunately, the bank was finished at the time.


Mr JAMES - The A&y after that statement' was given publicity in the press, deposits amounting to £3,000,000 were withdrawn from thehead office in New South Wales. Therefore the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was responsible toa large extent for the closing of that bank.


Mr Latham -That is ridiculous nonsense.


Mr JAMES - In view of recent events, it cannot becontended that the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales is unsound, and it is regrettable that some people are prepared to seize every opportunity to kick Mr. Lang through that institution. I support the measure, but the Government' should go a little further, and give some substantial assistance to this bank which has assets in Commonwealth loans amounting to £30,000,000. Furthermore, when the bank first gave guarantees to its depositors, it had control of the State note issue and of borrowing, but since federation, the control of thenote issue has passed to the Commonwealth Government, and the Loan Council has been given full control of borrowing.







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